Go back in time with the newly updated Historic Topo maps. Join experts in using these maps to research areas steeped in history. See how your hometown has changed. Search for undiscovered historic sites. Or turn any hike into a walk through the past with this quilt of scanned archival maps. Enjoy higher image quality plus more coverage of the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico thanks to fresh updates to these layers.
Two map sources provide two different periods of history to examine: the Historic Topo 1900 shows digitized historic topographic maps from 1885 to 1915. The Historic Topo 1930 shows digitized USGS topo maps from around 1930.
Preserving the Past through Patented Digitization
Scientists, historians, environmentalists, genealogists, and others researching a particular area use these Historic Topo maps to aid in their work. Use these historic maps to see snapshots of the country’s physical and cultural features at a particular time. Or compare maps to see how an area has evolved.
These maps come from The National Map’s Historical Topographic Map Collection (HTMC). HTMC maps are published in Portable Document Format (PDF) with geospatial extensions (GeoPDF®), patented by TerraGo Technologies. In 2011, USGS released these high-resolution scans of more than 178,000 historical topographic maps of the United States. Now you can easily access them at home on gaiagps.com or in the field on your iOS or Android device.
Two Historic Topo Maps Document 1885-1930
Gaia GPS offers two topo map layers from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Historic Topo 1900 shows digitized historic topographic maps from the continental United States and Hawaii from 1885 to 1915. Use this layer to get a sense of the US from the time the Dakotas were ratified as states (1889) to Arizona (1912). You can now enjoy roughly 150 million acres in new coverage.
Historic Topo 1930 shows digitized USGS topo maps for the continental United States and Hawaii, circa 1930. See what the US looked like at the dawn of the Great Depression. Explore 190 million acres in new coverage with this updated map.
Map scales for both layers include 24k, 31,680, 48k, 62,500, 96k, 125k, 192k, and 250k. When multiple maps covers the same area, maps get stacked upon each other until you zoom further into a particular area.
Take a Walk Through Time
Use the historical maps to see bygone features, and get to know an area in a whole new way.
- Download a map for your area to see old rail road lines, street names, town lines.
- Pair Historic Topo maps with your favorite base layer, such as the Gaia Topo, to get your bearings.
- Toggle between current maps like Gaia Topo and these historic map layers to quickly compare and contrast how an area has changed.
- Find overgrown stone foundations and settlements.
- Discover old bridle and carriage paths, which may still be passable.
- See old telegraph lines running under the ocean.
- Use these maps to help on treasure hunts.
Remember to be mindful of who’s land you are on. You can check land ownership using the Public Land (US) and Private Land (US) map layers. You can also learn more about the history of an area by viewing the Native Lands map.
How to Get the Historical Topo Maps
The Historical Topo maps are available with a Membership and Premium Membership. To add these maps to your Gaia GPS app, open the app, tap the layers icon, and select “Add map layers.” Go to “United States” and select the Historical Topo 1900 and/or Historical Topo 1930.
To add these maps to your Gaia GPS account on the web, go to gaiagps.com/map. Click the layers icon, and select “Add map layers.” Go to “United States” and select the Historical Topo 1900 and/or Historical Topo 1930.